Saturday, 28 December 2013

The master plan (part 3)

So I was visiting my best friend Anja in Vienna during Easter. Apart from the drinking and partying we of course found time to discuss my serious concerns about my plan to move to Japan. Speaking of partying, here's a very cool mix of some German DJ we saw in Vienna. It's one of my favorite Deephouse mixes of all times and it's inseperably linked to my year 2013.

Back to Anja. She is a very successful business woman you must know and only being 30, she achieved a lot in her career. More than other women in her age I believe. So when it came to business and work related topics or questions, she was always the best person to talk to and discuss things. In addition to that, we were best friends and shared a lot in the past. I trusted her with everything.

I showed her my Excel sheet and after explaining it and playing with the numbers, we came to the conclusion that I don't have enough money to safely do this. Having talked about financial help in the past, she was offering her help just as you would expect it from a best friend. I came to Vienna to ask her about it actually, but asking a friend for money was the hardest thing I could imagine. That's why I was even more relieved when she wasn't making a big deal out of it. She suggested that I should adjust my sheet to include several other valuables and I was so thankful for her input and even more for her financial help. We didn't know how much and for how long I would need that help, but my finacial planning wasn't at an end yet anyways.The talk with her made me think about my flat situation again. Should I sub-let it or give up my flat completly? Maybe I should get a flatmate for the remaining time and then give it up, hmm.

But no matter what, it was obvious that it was too much of a risk to move to Japan with empty pockets or only a minimum of savings. Not only the school had to be paid in advance but also rent, insurance, train rides and so on. There were lots of upfront payments in the beginning.

Back in Berlin I did the necessary adjustments to my Excel sheet right away and my plan become more realistic and looked a lot better than before, now having the option of Anja's financial help. I came to the following conclusions:

  • I want to become a language student and use the student visa for work. It's the best balance of work and language learning and gives me enough time to find my way around Japan.
  • For that, I need to pay the school upfront (689,700 Yen, at that time around 5,700€)
  • I need at least 3 months of rent plus a 1 month deposit in my pocket to be somewhat safe.
  • I only want Anja's financial help for one year, not more, in order to pay her back in time.
  • For all that, I need around 8,000€ to 10,000€. The lower the better, mainly so the monthly installment isn't such a killer.
  • If Anja helps with only 1 year of monthly installments, I should be more than fine.
  • I need a new flatmate for my remaining time in Berlin. Simply for the additional money.
  • I also need to sell as much valuable stuff as possible.

For some of you, this may sound like a lot of money but for me that wasn't actually much. You can get 8,000€ surprisingly cheap these days and I paid back a lot more than that in the past.

The big question was still: give up the flat, my belongings, basically my life and refuge, or not? Keeping my apartment would allow me to return into my safe harbor if all things go bad but will there be a trustworthy person to rent my apartment eventually? Will the risk of having a stranger in my home even out with the additional income I could get?

I decided it is time to let go. To fully let go. I decided to sell anything of value, only keep my personal stuff and memories but sell everything else. Of course I made a list again for that, a full inventory of things I wanted to sell and an estimated sum of money I could make by selling them. This went straight back into my Excel sheet of course, the more you know, right. Selling things was never my problem. I was an experiend eBay Seller and most of the electronics went there. I also gathered stuff for a flea-market sale and created a very detailed document for all the furniture I had.

Next was the new flatmate. I put up a free online ad at again. It was still saved from a couple of years ago, so I only had to update some pics and change the the description. Right on April 11th, my 33th birthday I published it and waited for the replies. Funny enough, I got quite a lot but most of them were from weirdos and people I wouldn't really trust. I even got into some sort of email fight with some fucker because he couldn't live with my polite way of saying "sorry, not interested". Anyways, this time I wasn't looking for female flatmates only but also for guys. Naturally, I enjoyed the company of women more and thought they are the better flatmates but this time I shouldn't be picky, so a guy would do. And boy, what a guy I got!

So in the end I got a guy from Luxembourg, who had a Doctor in Chinese and spoke German, French, Luxembourgish and of course Chinese. He worked as a translator and tour guide in Berlin. But mainly he drove his own Bicycle-Rikscha and made shitloads of money from the tourists. He was almost never at home and very quiet when he was, so the perfect flatmate actually. He was friendly, laid-back and not too strange. But still a bit strange. A laid-back, friendly kind of strange. Well, I think you catch my drift.

I gave Tokyo Riverside school my thumbs-up and we agreed that I'll start school from October 2013 this year. For that I had to change my flight plans but the costs were luckily covered by the flight insurance I booked as well (I'm such a play-safe guy). My new date of departure was September 25th.

On the next part I will write about the complicated and very Japanese application process and how I spent an awesome last summer in Berlin.

The things you leave behind

I got asked alot what would be the hardest thing to leave behind. If I wouldn't miss my family, Berlin, the food, these kind of things. To be honest, I wasn't really worried about the food or Berlin in general. Reason is; I love Japanese food, I love Tokyo, I won't get bored once I'm there. Of course I knew I would miss my family and friends but with Skype and Facebook, you can still keep in touch and be somewhat close with them.

There were only two things that I would miss dearly. First being my flat and the feeling of comfort and peace I enjoyed all these years, even while I was living alone.Hmm, thinking about it now, maybe even more while I was living alone. For only 550€, it's not easy to get such a big, quiet and cool flat in Berlin, even in the area I lived in. It was simply a great feeling to come home after a day of work, getting a pizza, watching HD movies and taking a bath, all carefree and after my own timing. I enjoyed being alone most of the times, mostly because of my lovely flat and the things I had at my disposal.

The second and more worrying part was the people I grew close to or was about to grow close to. Of course, I'm talking about women I had a love interest in.There were some that I lost contact to mainly because they didn't want any. If a relationship ends bad, women have the incredible strength to cut you out of their lives, once and for all. A strength I kinda admire sometimes. So having one ex-girlfriend I never had a satisfying "final talk" with, I told her about my plans, hoping this would give her the final push to finally meet up with me and give me some peace of mind after the talk. Didn't happen...meh. So that was a downer, but at least she said no and didn't keep quiet.

Maybe I was living in the past for too long (a couple of unlucky relationship attempts in the past tell a story), but I rather wait a couple of years and then talk with that person about our errors and wrong-doings during the relationship than never talking about it again in my life. It's like a review and time heals all wounds, doesn't it? Apparently not for this woman.

Another girl I met and tried to be with was too busy with her emotional problems even when I wasn't planning on going to Japan, so that didn't work out either. I tried to at least have somewhat of a romance with her, fully knowing it wasn't the best idea for the both of us, but I was just too much into her to leave her be. She couldn't handle it again (or me?), so that was another failure, even in "let's just stay friends". At least I helped in getting into therapy to treat her depression, so I assume she will be fine after all.

But there was one I'd like to tell you about in particular. You know, after that other girl ended our friendship, I swore myself not to get into anything serious before I leave to safe me and others from further complications. And exactly as the saying goes, if you don't look for someone, someone will knock on your door.


Because after my Rikscha-driving-flatmate left, I had the pleasure of hosting two crazy Irish girls who were only 20 years of age. Allowing them to enter my house and life wasn't my brightest idea I admit, but because it made me meet Shannon, I will never regret this ever in my life.

Shannon was a bubbly, hilarously funny, curly-haired, freckled young girl with the loudest laugh ever. Her friend Sorcha was also super funny and together they were a wrecking crew of party and fun. Before I knew it, I was back in a student life, drinking and partying with the girls during the week, still having to work and all that. But they were on vacation in Germany and I was having my final days here, so fuck it I thought. I even bought them the (drinking) game Looping Louie just to entertain them and have a blast together. We watched Misfits together, drank massive amounts of alcohol and I showed the clubs of Berlin. Good times.

While Sorcha was mostly displaying a "I don't give a shit" attitude towards people and life, Shannon was clearly more a deep thinker with a very outgoing personality. That alone attracted me, not to mention her lovely smile and the way we were talking with each other everytime we met in the kitchen or the living room. We had a connection and sometimes it just clicks even if both people know this isn't going to last. Or maybe exactly because of it? We both didn't know, but we both felt it was right.

First I was a bit hesitant because I didn't want to exploit her. But the more I got to know her, the closer we got emotionally, the more I wanted to protect her, care for her and just be there for her. She had some shit to go through and being the knight in shiny armor as always, I had to save her from distress. One time, when we both went out to a club together and when I lost sight of her for over an hour, not knowing where she went or who with, I was so worried and so angry about her leaving me without any information, that I absolutely lost my shit, figuratevily speaking. When I finally found her again, still talking to the same lame Australian guy, I grabbed her and took her out of the club, shouted at her for her stupid actions and made a big deal of a probably not so dangerous situation.

This was when I realized that I have fallen in love with this young Irish girl.

Maybe I was a bit too over-protective, but all I could think of is to keep her from harm and make her happy. Drunk shouting and fighting outside a club in the morning isn't really looking like it, I know, but you might understand me though. She did at least. And from then on, we both knew that this was more than summer romance with a younger/older flatmate.

Her friend Sorcha didn't really understand that, I believe. Things escalated. To give an example: we got a call from some drunk girls from a party who haven't heard about Sorcha. They told me that she went out for a pee but never returned, hours ago. At a lake. In the middle of the night. Oh, did I mention that it was around 3am in the morning when I got the call? Of course I was worried. Shannon was with me and she was worried too. The drunks even took a boat to search for Sorcha on the lake, but they were drunk and stupid, so not really helpful. They were wondering if Sorcha went with a guy or if they should call the police. So there I was at 3am in the morning, wide awake by the adrenaline and my mind thinking about what to do. So we told them to call the police and I took the car there (25min ride) just to be greeted by a dead-drunk Sorcha, apologizing to me because she fell asleep in a bush in the neighbor's garden.

Oh I wasn't angry actually, I was just relieved that she was safe and that Shannon didn't have to worry anymore about her friend anylonger. Sorcha cried during the whole trip back, talking Irish and probably apologizing the whole time. I should have realized then that she was a time-bomb. Eventually, I had to kick her out of my flat simply because she was violently hostile towards me and didn't show any respect during her stay, not to mention her problem with hygiene and authorities. Pretty fucked up for someone studying law actually.

Shannon was torn between us, she was loyal to her friend but she didn't want to leave me, especially not when things were so dramatically escalating when I was about to call the police on 4am in the morning to have Sorcha kicked out of my flat. But there was Shannon the diplomat, the negotiator. She eased my mind, just by holding my hand and looking at me the way she always did. I trusted her with everything and she trusted me with everything.

I think I forgot was love was about for a long time. But then I met Shannon and she made me remember it. But I also had a plan for my future and I didn't see any room in there for her. It was breaking my heart, and hers. The harder we tried to make it seem less serious, the more we grew closer to each other, probably out of sheer helplessness.

Seeing her going back to Ireland was one of the hardest things I had to endure. I tried to stay strong but inside I was already thinking of ways to see her again. But I didn't have enough money to visit her before leaving to Japan. It wasn't good anyways. We had to follow our own path. Mine was in Japan, hers was in Ireland. There was no chance of our paths to meet unless we thought of a crazy thing to make them.

She is with another guy now. Again with the whole cutting-me-out-of-her-life thing I've experienced so many times before. She can't fully let go though and I can't either I guess. But I should and she should as well. Part of me still thinks of her. I want to know what she's been up to, want to talk about random things with her, loving the memory of everything related to her. But it's in the past and this is now. I'm in Japan now.

The universe sometimes laughs in your face with these things, doesn't it? Just when you are ready to go somewhere else you meet someone so special. My conclusion is though, that this is some sort of escape, maybe if one is too scared of the things ahead. It could also mean that one is more open to things if the mind is free of restrictions during such a special time in your life. Be it as it may, it is not something to be afraid of.

I hope she will be happy. She deserves all the happiness in the world.